I was thumbing through my Entertainment Weekly magazine today, when I came across an article about the nominees for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards. Within the article the writers noted that the HBO hit series Game of Thrones should win Outstanding Drama series, but the explanation rubbed me the wrong way: “The hugely risky adult fantasy epic gained critical adoration and a rabid fan base while boldly sacrificing its biggest star.” Boldly sacrificing its biggest star? (Beware! Spoilers ahead!) Now the whole hoopla about killing off Sean Bean’s character Ned Stark really bugged me but the story has since died down with the end of the first season. However, seeing this mentioned again has brought up those feelings of annoyance again so I thought I’d blog about it.
First and foremost, I don’t understand how anyone could question or even congratulate the producers’ decision to kill off Ned Stark. Keeping Ned alive would have completely altered the story, one hundred percent. I mean, would the producers at that point have thrown out every sequel that George R.R. Martin wrote after Game of Thrones and just created an entirely new series from their blank minds? I can’t really blame the casual viewers of the TV show who have never read the books because they didn’t see Stark’s death coming and as far as TV shows go, you can kill off people and bring them back all day long (All My Children anyone?). But this isn’t a TV show, it’s a book adaptation. It has certain responsibilities. You make a choice when you do an adaptation; you stick to the source material or you go you’re own way while casually borrowing from the original material a la True Blood.
However this issue is beyond the HBO show; at its core, it actually touches on a nerve for most movie viewers and book lovers. The fact is, Hollywood has become obsessed with the bottom line which is of course money. And you don’t make money if you can’t find something that will motivate viewers to make the initiative to watch your project. In this endless pursuit of profit, Hollywood has made the mistake of altering adaptations so that the final result is nothing like its source because the heads of the entertainment industry are so afraid of upsetting us finicky viewers. And of course, their attempts at creating a pleasing adaptation almost always fails (the only exception I can think of is The Notebook). Everyone knows books are basically always better than their adaptations. Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Golden Compass, Angels and Demons, The Other Boleyn Girl ……I could go on and on and I’m sure you could too.
So why would anyone throw a fit that the producers actually did the right thing and stuck to the original story by killing off Sean Bean’s character? Well they might not be readers or they might just really love Bean but otherwise people should be praising everyone involved for actually putting forth a more than decent adaptation of the book. With everyone complaining about how Hollywood screws everything up, it really irks me when I see a group who actually had the guts to stay true to the original work get harassed for the death of a major character. If I actually feel something, if a TV show or movie actually moves me, I consider it a success. I don’t need my entertainment to be full of sunshine and daisies all the time, because life isn’t like that anyway. But that’s just me.